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The rules of conversation: Quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing.

If you've ever had a productive argument, you know there are rules:

  1. State your case calmly.
  2. Listen carefully.
  3. Repeat what others are saying in your own words.
  4. Acknowledge what others have said, even if you disagree.

The rules of scholarly conversation are similar.

When you are new to a research topic, it's important to show that you have taken the time to inform yourself with facts and previous research. This shows that you are building new knowledge on work that has come before you. It also helps you build an argument based on evidence, rather than your own opinion. 

In an academic setting you show that you have done this by: 

  1. Quoting: reusing text without changes.
  2. Paraphrasing: rephrasing text in your own words.
  3. Summarizing: shortening text to the basic or main points.

Let's take a look at this sample text and quote, paraphrase, and summarize it in APA style.

Passage:

Anxiety is a multisystem response to a perceived threat or danger. It reflects a combination of biochemical changes in the body, the patient's personal history and memory, and the social situation at hand. Human anxiety involves an ability to use memory and imagination and to move backward and forward in time; a large portion of human anxiety is produced by anticipation of future events. Without a sense of personal continuity over time, people would not have the “raw materials” of anxiety. 

 

Reference

Mitchell, M. A. (2013). Anxiety. Gale Encyclopedia of Nursing and Allied Health, Retrieved from https://libdb.dccc.edu/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/galegnaah/anxiety/0?institutionId=5109. 


Quoting

When you quote you take text or content from one source and reproduce it word for word in your own presentation.

Original Text Quoted Text
Anxiety is a multisystem response to a perceived threat or danger. It reflects a combination of biochemical changes in the body, the patient's personal history and memory, and the social situation at hand. Human anxiety involves an ability to use memory and imagination and to move backward and forward in time; a large portion of human anxiety is produced by anticipation of future events. Without a sense of personal continuity over time, people would not have the “raw materials” of anxiety.  "Anxiety is a multisystem response to a perceived threat or danger. It reflects a combination of biochemical changes in the body, the patient's personal history and memory, and the social situation at hand" (Mitchell, 2013, para. 1).

Quoted text always has quotation marks (" ") at the beginning and end. 

Quotes can be useful, but try to keep them to a minimum. You want your project to be made up of your own words and ideas more than others'.

 

Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing is restating what someone else has written or said in your own words.

Original Text Paraphrased Text
Anxiety is a multisystem response to a perceived threat or danger. It reflects a combination of biochemical changes in the body, the patient's personal history and memory, and the social situation at hand. Human anxiety involves an ability to use memory and imagination and to move backward and forward in time; a large portion of human anxiety is produced by anticipation of future events. Without a sense of personal continuity over time, people would not have the “raw materials” of anxiety.  Anxiety is a type of response to a "perceived threat or danger" that involves many systems in the body. These include the biochemical, psychological, and neurological systems. Much of human anxiety is caused by concerns about the future, which is a human concern. The human sense of one's own past and future is one of the aspects of anxiety that allows it to flourish in humans (Mitchell, 2013).

Paraphrased text does not have quotation marks, except where you are using someone else's exact phrasing.  

Paraphrased text ends with a parenthetical (or in-text) citation.

 

Summarizing

To summarize is to provide a shortened version of someone else's idea or writing. 

Original Text Summarized Text
Anxiety is a multisystem response to a perceived threat or danger. It reflects a combination of biochemical changes in the body, the patient's personal history and memory, and the social situation at hand. Human anxiety involves an ability to use memory and imagination and to move backward and forward in time; a large portion of human anxiety is produced by anticipation of future events. Without a sense of personal continuity over time, people would not have the “raw materials” of anxiety.  Human anxiety depends on several bodily systems, and it can not exist without a human's sense of the past, present, and future (Mitchell, 2013).

As with paraphrasing, summarizing only uses quotations when you are using someone else's exact words.

Summarizing requires parenthetical citations, because you are using or referring to someone else's ideas.


Whether you quote, paraphrase, or summarize, you are required to acknowledge the author and source of the information you are using with a citation.